I have a confession. I can’t cook Yorkshire puddings. I want to, I long to, but I’ve never been able to accomplish the fine balance between soft, well risen batter and the slight crisp at the edges of the pudding.
Now don’t get me started on all that Aunt Bessie malarkey. I’m originally from Yorkshire and I find those lumps of cardboard an insult. My mum has proudly made her puds from scratch for every single Sunday roast we’ve ever had and they’re the best in Britain, regardless of what you have to say about your own mother’s attempts. Yet somehow I’ve never have not inherited that magic touch and it pains me deep. Maybe it’s a practised thing?
What better way than to try and succeed where I’ve so often failed before than National Yorkshire pudding day? A quick google of ‘The History of the Yorkshire Pudding’ leads me to discover that their origins are ‘shrouded in mystery’. That’s right, there are absolutely ‘no cave drawings or hieroglyphics’ unearthing the secret to the humble pud, leading us to presume that they were ‘brought to these shores by any of the invading armies across the centuries’. Epic stuff. Obviously along the way us Yorkshire folk recognised a good thing and took it for our own. Not such a silly bunch of northerners now are we?!
That’s why Sunday 5th February saw me rolling up my sleeves and tackling Toad-in-the-Hole with creamy mash and thick onion gravy. As much as I wanted to cook like my mum and add a little bit of this to a little bit of that, I suspected the reason for my previous failings may have been down to that sort of cavalier attitude. Instead I opted for a simple looking recipe and premiered my new digital scales for the upmost accuracy.
I’d invested in some top quality saucissons (reduced, may I add) and popped them in a baking dish with a little bit of vegetable for 20 minutes. Next, the batter – my worst nightmare. Carefully following the recipe, I mixed the flour, milk and eggs together to create a smooth batter. Then in a moment of creative madness, I added some dried rosemary and seasoned, all the while hoping I hadn’t just condemned it to failure. With every fibre in my body crossed I poured it around the sausages and popped it back in the oven, resisting the urge to open the door too early and risk having a flat pancake pud.
Meanwhile, potatoes were peeled, chopped and placed in a pan. Following Jamie Oliver’s advice on gravy, I slow fried some onions, added a splash of red wine vinegar some beef stock cubes and water, cooking until it was thick and gloopy. Amazingly, on inspection of the oven 40 minutes later I discovered a well risen Yorkshire pudding surrounded browned sausages – a first time in my kitchen.
In true Yorkshire style, I piled everything high on the plate and tucked in. And the verdict? Pretty good actually. Admittedly it was nowhere near my mum’s standard. It was soft on the bottom and a little crispy at the top, but still lacked that divine texture I love so much. I’ll give the recipe the benefit of the doubt and assume it was probably something I did (I will admit at this stage that although I had scales to weigh the flour, I couldn’t bring myself to measure the milk out properly. Lesson learned again I suppose!). Otherwise it was a pretty satisfying meal and perfect thing to eat whilst the snow lay outside. And at the cost of about £2 – £2.50 for a three person serving, you can’t really go wrong. Another successful experiment I think.